“Now we have a voice,” Mark* told The Daily Beast on Tuesday, after he and other survivors filed lawsuits against the hospital where they say they were among more than 200 children sexually abused by a prominent New York physician.
Dr. Reginald Archibald, who worked at Rockefeller University Hospital for 40 years as a pediatric endocrinologist and growth specialist, was first publicly accused of being a serial sexual predator in Oct. 2018 when 17 men came forward with allegations against him in The New York Times.
The hospital hired law firm Debevoise & Plimpton to conduct an investigation, and a damning report released in May revealed that officials were aware of such complaints as early as 1961.
More than 200 other survivors have since come forward to allege abuse by Archibald, who died in 2007. The doctor treated more than 9,000 patients during his time at the hospital, and court filings in April alleged that he also used his status as a prominent physician to hunt for victims at Boys & Girls Club pools in the Lower Hudson Valley and New York City.
Mark’s lawsuit, filed in New York State Supreme Court, alleges that Archibald molested him on ten occasions over five years, starting when he was five years old in 1963.
Many survivors of Archibald’s alleged abuse described similar experiences to the Times: the doctor would tell them to disrobe and then masturbate them or ask them to masturbate. Archibald often took photos of the patients with a Polaroid camera and measured their penises, they said.
Mark’s case is one of hundreds of lawsuits that were filed last week in New York—targeting the Catholic Church, the Boy Scouts, sports groups, schools, and other institutions—by survivors of child sex abuse.
The recent suits were enabled by New York state’s Child Victims Act, which passed earlier this year and went into full effect on Wednesday. The law removes the state’s statute of limitations on sex crimes against children and creates a one-year window to file legal action against individuals and institutions—no matter when the abuse occurred, the age of the accuser, or if the alleged perpetrator is alive or dead.
Child sexual abuse expert Marci Hamilton estimated that the lawsuits, by the year’s end, will total at least 3,000 and cost hundreds of millions of dollars to settle, Newsday reported.
“The Child Victims Act has given me a window of opportunity,” Mark told The Daily Beast on Tuesday. “It means a lot to me.”
“It’s one of those things that follows you your whole life really,” Mark continued. “Now, I’ve taken the time to talk to my wife and my doctors, and that’s good for me. It makes life a little easier, rather than carrying it all by yourself.”
Mark has asked for a jury trial and is seeking unspecified punitive and compensatory damages.
Rich Klein, 58, who also recently filed a Child Victims Act suit over alleged abuse by Archibald, began seeing the doctor when he was just shy of 2 years old, in 1963.
“As a 4-, 5-, 6-, 7-, 8 year-old-kid, you don’t think about it,” Klein told Newsday last week. “Oh, he’s examining me because of my height.”
“I do believe he will turn out to be the most prolific pedophile” in the history of New York, if not the United States, said Klein’s attorney, Jennifer Freeman, who represents hundreds of survivors who say they were abused by Archibald.
In June, retired acting New York State Supreme Court Judge Charles Apotheker revealed that he was a victim of Archibald’s abuse.
That same month, more than 20 survivors spoke out against Rockefeller University Hospital over its purported knowledge of the abuse, which they claim enabled Archibald to victimize thousands of children over his four decades at the institution.
“In my work as a police officer and then firefighter for the FDNY, I have seen and experienced the unthinkable, including as a first responder on 9/11,” survivor Vincent Guzzone said at a Manhattan press conference. “But nothing I have witnessed in my work has compared to being abused by Dr. Archibald and the pain it has caused me throughout my life.”
At the same conference, survivor Matthew Harris called the university hospital “an elite institution that cared more for its own reputation than the children in its care.”
In May, the 27-page independent report by Debevoise & Plimpton concluded that Archibald “engaged in a widespread pattern of misconduct and sexually abused many children at the Hospital over the course of many years when offering patients medical care and treatment.”
At the time, the Rockefeller University Hospital released a statement apologizing to patients and offering to assist victims with compensation for weekly therapy sessions.
“Rockefeller University is committed to acting responsibly and working constructively with former patients of Dr. Archibald,” the school said.
Mark’s attorney Jeff Herman on Tuesday told The Daily Beast that Archibald was nothing more than “a monster masquerading as a doctor.”
“The time has now come for these survivors to be heard,” said Herman. “Unfortunately we can't take back what happened to them, but we now have the opportunity to shed light on these stories and help victims begin to heal.”
*Mark is identified by the pseudonym initials W.F.L. in his lawsuit. The Daily Beast does not identify sexual-assault survivors without their consent.